SOURCE: The Times
AUTHOR: Mike Wilson
DATE: 03 August 2003
ORIGINAL: Click here
ARCHIVE: Cannot archive due to paywall.
NOTE: If this looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen the story of Rory as a castle doorman in “Dog Soldier“. This story goes into much more detail and gives us context for several other things going on in his life at the time. Finding this for me was like being the little kid at Christmas.
And hey, big man. You ever want someone to come hang out with you in a castle gatehouse again, winter or summer, hit me up. It’s cold? Fuck it, let’s cuddle.
I know. I know. Shaddup.
Actor Rory McCann loved life in an old stone gatehouse, he tells Mike Wilson
The gatehouse looks like a mini-castle — it has 30ft oak doors. Downstairs, there was a grand piano, plus big wheels, the size of a car wheel, that were used to open the 30ft doors. Upstairs, 50 steps up a turret, was my bedroom.
Rowallan Castle is owned by a friend who played with me in a band. And as well as doing tree surgery, I was also required to walk the land, with my gun and dog, to keep an eye on things. Basically, in exchange for being able to live in the gatehouse, I was an unpaid night watchman, doing the odd job around the place and cutting down the odd tree. I felt very lucky. This was only five years ago.
I had great times at Rowallan. It was hard, though, during the winter. The only way to heat the house was with log fires but it would take four hours before the house would feel warm, because the stone (walls) just sucked the heat from the fires. To get a bath, I’d just go down to Kilmarnock swimming pool.
In summer, though, it was just glorious. And I had the whole place to myself. I am very good with my own company. Most of my girlfriends, however, didn’t like staying there when it was dark and cold. Some thought it was like camping, because it was so basic.
Furniture-wise, there were only four pieces: a grand piano, a bed, a sofa and a chair. It’s just as well I can play the piano. There was no cooker, for instance. But I got by for food: lots of fish suppers, I suppose. I’d sometimes cook on the fire.
There was also a dummy — Rab — in full Highland dress, which would scare me every time I opened the door to the room it was in.
Eventually, I had to start earning something for a living, so I left Rowallan for a high-rise in Glasgow and a job painting the Forth bridge. I did that for a year.
It wasn’t the best time of my life, partly because I had to get rid of my dog, a big German shepherd.
But during that time came a call from an agent, asking me to appear in a television ad for Scott’s porridge oats. It meant I was able to dump the ropes and dump the chainsaw and I’ve never looked back.
I now live in the west end of Glasgow. But I dream of one day having my own castle, a hideyhole.
You might know the porridge ad: I’m wearing a kilt, walking down the street, and the wind blows up. It looked very Marilyn Monroe, standing over the air vent.
You have got to remember, I was knocking on agents’ doors all during this period. But all I’d get were one-liners. One of the reasons I moved to Glasgow from Rowallan, I suppose, was to be closer to the acting scene.
And then Annie Griffin, who wrote and directed The Book Group asked me to read a script. I was actually working on a tree when she arrived in person.
Of course, I was expecting it to be another one-line wonder. She handed me the script. I said, “Which line do I say?” And she replied, “No, read the whole script.”
And lo and behold, I’m reading the character of Kenny and his stories are feeling like my stories. And then, a while after that, last year, I am picking up a Scottish Bafta for Best Television Performance.
Best known for playing Kenny in Channel 4’s The Book Group, Rory McCann has appeared in Peter the Great, broadcast on the BBC, and has a part in a film, Young Adam, to be screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival
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